By Melanie Petrucci, Senior Community reporter
Shrewsbury – Town Manager Kevin Mizikar reviewed findings from the May 28 Shrewsbury Town Center Study Report at the Board of Selectmen’s June 25 meeting. The report was prepared for the town by consultants Horsley Witten Group, Inc. Shrewsbury received an award from MassDevelopment for the development of this study.
“This study embarked on two main components: to look at the town center as a whole and to develop a series of strategies that would strengthen the district and build upon related plans like the Master Plan, Complete Streets and the Town Center Parking Management Plan…The second focuses on the Beal School property which falls under the Beal Re-use Committee, and they had some input on this as it’s obviously a key component as we’ve all discussed in the revitalization of the town center,” Mizikar said.
He added that the study encourages the town to be proactive with regard to traffic circulation as congestion, volume and speed were of great concern.
Additionally, to make sure that regional and national economic market conditions do not negatively affect the center, the study highlighted the need to focus on what they can provide while not trying to compete with aspects of the economy that they couldn’t satisfy, for example, major retail and large scale office building environments.
“An analysis of zoning was conducted and the study recommended that changes be made in areas of the use of the center to complement the type of niche that the center is trying to develop and to attract people and keep it an attractive, vibrant and exciting destination for visitors,” Mizikar noted.
Parking requirements, site design elements including setbacks and buffers, buildings being well maintained and attractive from street view, and a stronger residential component to complement business activities were also studied.
Approaches specific to the Beal School re-use were outlined with five different concepts which were developed with input provided by the Beal Re-use Committee, and through public survey and forums.
Mizikar also referenced the efforts and activities of the Shrewsbury Town Center Association which was formed to support and promote downtown revitalization.
“The report states that zoning reform is the highest priority, when would those kinds of changes go before Town Meeting?” inquired Selectman Beth Casavant.
The response from Chair Maurice DePalo was that it probably wouldn’t be until the next Annual Town Meeting in May 2020. He also said that it was a very good report and that most of the recommendations were achievable. However, traffic mitigation will be difficult.
To access the Town Center Study, visit: https://shrewsburyma.gov/DocumentCenter/View/5318/Town-Center-Visioning-Report-May-28-2019.